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you in your late martial exploit, with renowned good success, be did also work in you such a change of your mind, before, by report, inclined to work carnal dalliance, that that honourable and Christian bruit was carried about joyfully, to the much gladding of many, that unfeignedly loved your honour's true prosperity. But proh dolor! my good lord, I perceived by some eyewitnesses here, and which must needs hear and mark, that of late a backsliding to the foul impudent doth plainly appear : and though they did marvel and much blame your dishonourable and dangerous to yourself course-taking, to the infaming a nobleman's wife, and so near about her majesty ; yet she was utterly condemned as too bad, both unchaste and impudent, with as it were an incorrigible unshamefacedness. The Lord speedily of his grace amend her, or cut her off before some sudden mischief. It hath already made her ancient noble husband to undo his house by selling, as one out of comfort. But if a desperate rage, as commonly followeth, he will revenge his provoked jealousy, and most intolerable injury, even desperately; and the more, because, it is said, he loveth ber, and greatly, as with grief, laboureth to win her. It is great pity she is not delivered to him, and the court to be cleansed by sending away such an unchaste gaze and common by-word, in respect of her place and husband. But you, my good lord, have not so learned Christ, and heard his holy word. In the third, fourth, and fifth verses of the fourth chapter of the first epistle to the Thessalonians, it is written, “ This is the will of God, that ye should be holy, and abstain from fornication, and every one know how to keep his own vessel in holiness and honour; and not in the lust of concupiscence, as do the Gentiles, which know not God.” And more, if it please you to read and mark well, it is a heavy threat, " that fornicators and adulterers God will judge,” and that they shall be shut out: for such things, saith the apostle, commonly cometh the wrath of God upon us. Good lord, remember and consider your great danger bereby both of soul and body. Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, but honour God, that honoured you, and reward him not with such evil for his great kindness towards you. Good my lord, sin not against your own soul.
My Lady Strafford said upon occasion in her talk, the good virtuous countess your wife was with child. O honourable and valiant noble, make great account of this God's blessing to you both, and make not her heart sorrowful to the hinderance of her young fruit within her. For it is thought she took before to heart, and that her last did not comfortably prosper.
If you be with the Lord indeed, he will be with you, and make your very enemies to reverence you. Be strong in the Lord, your and our good patient God. Fear him, and walk privately in his truth; and for his promise in Christ he will assist you, look favourably on you and yours, and prosper and increase his blessing upon you and yours : which mercy and grace I humbly do, as I am most bound, call upon him to grant you ever, my dear lord and worthy lord in Christ
Jesu. With my very inward affection have I thus presumed ill favouredly to scribble, I confess, being sickly and weak many ways. Boni consulas, te vehementer oro, et quam optime vivas et valeas, vir insignissime, et quantum decet, mihi charissime. In Christo ex animo. Dec. 1, 1596.
THE EARL OF ESSEX TO LADY BACON.
MADAM, That it pleased you to deal thus freely with me, in letting me know the worst you hear of me, I take it as a great argument of God's favour in sending so good an angel to admonish me; and of no small care in your ladyship of my well doing. I know how needful these summons are to all men, especially to those that live in this place. And I had rather with the poor publican knock my breast, and lie prostrate, or with the apostles confess, when I have done all I can, I am an unprofitable servant, than pharisaically to justify myself. But what I write now is for the truth sake, and not for mine own. I protest before the majesty of God, and my protestation is voluntary and advised, that this charge, which is newly laid upon me, is false and unjust ; and that since my departure from England towards Spain, I have been free from taxation of incontinency with any woman that lives. I never saw or spoke with the lady you mean but in public places; and others being seers and hearers, who, if they would do me right, could justify my behaviour. But I live in a place where I am hourly conspired against, and practised upon. What they cannot make the world believe, that they persuade themselves unto ; and what they cannot make probable to the queen, that they give out to the world. They have almost all the house to serve them for instruments. Yea, the very oracles (I mean those that are accounted to be plain and sincere) do speak the largest language of the strongest faction. Plutarch taught me long since to make profit of my enemies; but God teacheth it me much better now. Worthy lady, think me a weak man, full of imperfections; but be assured I do endeavour to be good, and had rather mend my faults than cover them. I wish your ladyship all true happiness, and rest at your ladyship’s commandment, Dec. 1, 1596.
THE EARL OF ESSEX TO QUEEN ELIZABETH*.
MAY- IT PLEASE YOUR MAJESTY, ALTHOUGH I see your style already changed, and nothing but gathering clouds and foul weather after me; yet my duty, faith, and industry shall never alter. Let me fall as low, and as soon, as destiny and yourself have agreed. I am prepared for all things. But, dear sovereign, when you are weary of me, let me die as a private man. Take care of your honour; take pity of your brave army, whereof, for the time, I am the head and soul; and take to heart that our
• Written from Ireland.
success imports your estate. Value such honest men as we, that undergo all hazards and miseries for your safety and greatness; and cherish such gallant and worthy servants as this bearer, who will take it for as great happiness to be sacrificed for you, as others, whom you favour most, will to be made great and happy by you. Cherish them, I humbly beseech you upon the knees of my heart; for they must sweat and bleed for you, when a crew of those, which now more delight you, will prove but unprofitable servants. And if your majesty, if you, I say, whose parting with me so pierced my very soul, can be transformed by those sirens that are about you, then think, that you shall quickly hear, that a brave death shall ransom from scorn and misery . Your majesty's humblest servant,
THE EARL OF ESSEX TO THE EARL OF SOUTH
AMPTON. MY LORD, As neither nature nor custom ever made me a man of compliment, so now I shall have less will than ever for to use such ceremonies, when I have left with Martha to be solicitus circa multa, and believe with Mary, unum sufficit. But it is no compliment or ceremony, but a real and necessary duty that one friend oweth to another in absence, and especially at their leave taking, when in man's reason many accidents may keep them long divided, or perhaps bar them ever meeting till they meet in another world : for then shall I